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A Traditional Passover Dinner

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Matzo ball soup, brisket and a rich flourless chocolate cake celebrate the holiday in style

Menu compiled by Tony Rosenfeld

All holidays celebrate tradition, though Passover, perhaps more than any other in the Jewish calendar, really sticks to the script when it comes to the menu. This is partly because leavened breads and grains are excluded from the festivities, so the options are slightly limited. But it’s also because the staples at a seder—haroset, matzo ball soup, and brisket—are so good that they can’t be skipped, not even for one year. 

All seders begin with haroset, a spiced fruit and nut spread that’s perfect for topping matzo. Then it’s on to the meal—here, it starts with a flavorful matzo ball soup. For the main course, brisket is always my preferred centerpiece, and an elegant potato gratin and roasted asparagus with toasted garlic & coriander oil to round out the meal. Finally, there’s a rich flourless and butter-free chocolate cake, lightened with whipped egg whites, and topped with a crackly caramel-cherry-almond brittle topping.

Looking for more Passover ideas? See our editors’ Top Passover Recipe Picks, or browse All Passover Recipes.

Menu Timeline

Three days ahead:

  • Shop for all of your ingredients.
  • Make the chicken broth.
  • Make the haroset.

Two days ahead:

  • Make the chicken soup and matzo balls.

One day ahead:

  • Braise the brisket; refrigerate the meat and vegetables in the degreased, strained cooking juices (hold off on making the sauce until the day of the dinner).
  • Make and glaze the chocolate cake.
  • Set the table.

Four hours before dinner:

  • Prep the potatoes and bake the gratin; keep it at room temperature when finished.

One hour before dinner:

  • Reheat the matzo ball soup.
  • Reheat the brisket and the potato gratin in a 325*F oven. Make the pan sauce for the brisket.
  • Trim the asparagus and make the garlic & coriander oil.

Fifteen minutes before dinner

  • Keep the brisket warm on the stovetop.
  • Roast the asparagus and dress with the garlic-coriander oil.

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 3 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 2 lb. medium or large asparagus
  • 10 medium carrots
  • 3 medium onions
  • 1 heart celery, with leaves
  • 3 medium parsnips
  • 1 leek (optional)
  • 1 large bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 1 medium Granny Smith apple
  • 1 medium Fuji or Gala apple
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 medium lemon

Meat & Eggs

  • 1 4- to 5-lb. beef brisket
  • About 6 lb. chicken parts (1 large older bird or 2 cut-up broilers), plus extra necks and backs, if available
  • 10 large eggs

Other Groceries:

  • 2 cups frozen pearl onions
  • 14-1/2-oz. can peeled tomatoes
  • 14-oz. can low-salt chicken or beef broth
  • 1 bottle sweet red wine (such as Manischewitz)
  • 1 lb. unsalted stick margarine
  • 8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 1-1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1-1/4 cup matzo meal
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup matzo cake meal
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup Kirschwasser or other cherry liqueur

Pantry Staples:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. honey; more to taste
  • 3 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon; more to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. table salt
  • Pinch crushed red chile flakes
  • 1 small bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns

The Menu

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